“You can see the outline of Mont Saint-Michel from here. We’ll be there soon,” said Suzanne, the local tour guide. “This is one of the most popular attractions in France.” Besides me, there were ten people in the group, and we were there for an afternoon visit. Our guide told us that Mont-Saint Michel was built on a granite rock and that it became surrounded by water at high tide. Since we would be arriving at low tide, the adjoining parking lot would be dry.
From a distance we could see Mont Saint-Michel against a field of grazing sheep. Soon we arrived at the entrance, and then started the walk up the steep sidewalk to the Mont Saint-Michel abbey. Although it looked like a challenging walk inside the abbey, Suzanne said, ‘If you get tired, just rest at the landings and look at the view. We’ll meet at the top.”
From the moment the long walk up began, flight after flight of steps appeared. I was grateful for the landings. I even started counting, “Fifty-eight steps, fifty-nine, sixty” until there was a place to rest. Then I took lots of pictures, partly in an effort to gear up for the next set of stairs.
After several sequences of steps and landings, I wondered when I would reach the top. I saw other groups of people effortlessly taking the steps two at a time. (I think one of them was Suzanne). They didn’t have any trouble talking and walking at the same time. “I think I need to practice walking up more stairs in the future,” I thought as I continued. Actually I was able to keep up with the many of the others in my group.
When I made it to the top, I saw that it was worth the walk. “Is everyone here now?” Suzanne asked. This question was probably rhetorical because everyone was already there waiting for one more person (not me). “I’m here,” said the last person from our group to arrive. Now we could see panoramic views of the sea and the land. There were graceful arches, nooks, and places from which to enjoy the view below. There was a slight breeze, which was pleasant on a warm afternoon. And I was happy to have made the climb.
At the end of the visit there was a souvenir shop. I thought of asking, “Is there a t-shirt that says ‘I climbed the steps of Mont Saint-Michel’ for sale?” But of course there wasn’t, and I’m sure I didn’t say it out loud.